Big In London: Sudocrem

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Drugstore is great; French pharmacy, even better. But there's a whole wide world out there, full of supermarket standards that have yet to make it big here in the States. The internet will probably change that (hey Amazon, we see you)—and we're here to do our part. Today, a story from London:

Chic nighttime beauty routines are all well and good for when you have a visitor in your bed with whom you'd prefer to remain aloof, say, or when you're channelling Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman post-glam makeover, satin nighty, blow-dry and all. Sometimes, though, my skin goes into protest-mode (protest at what, I don't know—society's ills? Life in general?), and then I need something a little more substantial. And for the nights when all you want to do is elastic your hair back and slather your face in something medicinal, I can't sing the praises of Sudocrem loudly or frequently enough.

A disclaimer: Sudocrem is first and foremost a nappy rash cream standard throughout the UK. It's been smothered over sweet little baby booties since it was first mixed up in the 1930s. And to this day, you'll have a hard time finding a British mother who doesn't have a trusty gray tub of it in her handbag. But it's also a miraculous solution to inflamed, angry spots and redness, so it's come to the aid of many a rosacea-prone sucker like myself. Ditto in the case of sunburn, ingrown hairs, eczema, or grazes. It's like a dermatological first-aid kit all in one.

As for the magic formula: It contains lanolin, which accounts for how it leaves you baby smooth, along with zinc oxide, which miraculously retains moisture without feeling greasy. But most importantly in this triumvirate of power are its antiseptic properties, which calm down angry breakouts and redness and just generally make everything that much better.

All that said, Sudocrem is best kept for the night shift. It's thick—opaque, even—and a chalky white color that would have the sweet lady across the hall asking if you were feeling OK. Regardless, applied thinly after cleansing and before bed (I like to massage it in after a sweep of rosehip or hempseed oil), I find it helps me wake up looking the kind of dewy and fresh that's usually reserved for natural yogurt advertisements.

Or you can keep a tube on you and apply on small patches as and when required, saving from a full-face application that'll have you looking like you have a face full of alabaster for a night. I guess people do that, too. Whatever works.

—Maisie Skidmore

Maisie Skidmore discovered Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream as an inquisitive teenage babysitter rummaging through bathroom cabinets and now works as an assistant editor at It's Nice That . She lives in London.

Illustration by Lucy Han.